Vukovar - Over 50,000 people on Sunday morning took part in a procession in remembrance of the victims of Vukovar, marching from the town hospital to the memorial cemetery in tribute to victims of the siege and the fall of this eastern Croatian town into the hands of the besieging Serb and Yugoslav People's Army forces in the autumn of 1991.
"We are here together again to remember the suffering of Vukovar and to remember innocent victims as well as to promise to our children that this will never happen again," said President Ivo Josipović, who took part in the march of remembrance together with other top officials, including Parliament Speaker Josip Leko and Prime Minister Zoran Milanović.
Leko said that the importance of Vukovar for Croatia's history could not be summarised in one sentence.
"Twenty one years after the Vukovar tragedy, I can say that Vukovar is a lesson in Croatian history, its future and of tolerance," he added.
Prime Minister Milanović told reporters that feelings of sorrow, pride but also anger are always intermingled.
It is up to the government to persist in solving that burning question of the people who went missing in the war and who are still unaccounted-for, he said adding that the war was not yet over for the families whose members were still missing.
"This is a procession of victory and thank God, that it is so," Vukovar Mayor Željko Sabo said. Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić said that this year's Vukovar Remembrance Day was being commemorated in a different atmosphere because of the acquitting verdict rendered by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for the two Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač.
Pusić said the acquittal proved that Croatia was on the right track and that it would win in the end.
General Markač, who was on Friday cleared of war crimes by the UN Tribunal in The Hague and was immediately released from the tribunal's detention centre, said that he could not describe how he felt now that he is free and among his people after spending years in a 10-square-metre cell. We are honorable soldiers of our Croatian homeland, he added. (HINA)